From ER&L to SSP and beyond, there is no shortage of conferences for scholarly communications professionals to attend. Many of us have at least one key meeting that we attend year after year – partly to learn and partly to network – which is often focused primarily on our own community (Charleston or one of the ALA meetings for librarians, ALPSP or PSP for publishers, and so on). With budgets under pressure, it can be hard to make the case for attending other conferences, especially those that are ‘outside’ your core community. However, in my experience, those are the very meetings where you learn the most, which is why I was excited to hear about Advancing Research Communication & Scholarship (ARCS), a new conference to be held in Philadelphia, PA on April 26-28. Two of the ARCS 2015 Board members, Robin Champieux, Scholarly Communication Librarian, Oregon Health & Science University and Jill Emery, Collection Development Librarian, Portland State University, kindly agreed to tell us how the meeting came about, what they hope to achieve, and more. (Full disclosure, the Scholarly Kitchen’s Jill O’Neill is also on the 2015 Board, and Charlie Rapple is leading one of the sessions.)
What exactly is ARCS and how did it come about?
ARCS, Advancing Research Communication & Scholarship, is a new conference designed to provide a broad and collaborative forum for addressing and affecting scholarly and scientific communication. As organizers, we are working from the idea that supporting and improving knowledge communication in the digital age necessitates conversations and partnerships across communities, disciplines, and expertise. We originally imagined the conference two years ago, as a powerful resource for informing our practice as librarians increasingly focused on issues related to open access, data sharing, collaborative technologies, and research impact. We wanted a meeting that would build upon, but transcend the community and issue specific conversations of other conferences. Partnering with an organizing committee of librarians, technologists, humanists, scientists, and publishers we have built a conference program that addresses scholarly communication issues across the research cycle, through a diversity of stakeholder perspectives.
Who is the conference aimed at? Which other conferences is it similar to?
Librarians, technology providers, researchers, students, professional societies, and publishers–people across organizations and roles who are driving the practices and infrastructures that influence and advance knowledge communication in the digital age. In terms of both topics and attendees there are connections to conferences and organizations like SSP, ACRL, the SPARC forums, Force11, and the Digital Library Federation Forum, to name a few. However, we are also aiming to engage a broader audience of people whose roles may or may not be formally defined as belonging to the sharing of scholarly knowledge, but who are passionate about many of the same issues as those of us working directly in this space. Similarly, we will be threading connections to scholarly communication across a diverse set of issues examined at other conferences, but not necessarily through this lens.
How does it differ? What is the gap that the conference fills?
There are a lot of intersections between researchers, librarians, publishers, professional societies, and vendors but, in our experience, the major discourses about scholarly communication tend to focus on the cycle of content creation and dissemination. Around this core is a broad ecosystem of related workflows, policies, systems, and information–all driving less visible changes in how knowledge is developed, endorsed, and shared. This peripheral work doesn’t fit neatly into the scope of any of the existing cross-sector conferences, leaving many collaborative efforts and outcomes unrecognized. We’ve created ARCS to support a broader examination of this ecosystem, to consider what is succeeding, and what failures can be fixed. The conference will engage, connect, and raise the profiles of those engaged in this “under the hood” work, and provide a platform for developing shared strategies based on common experiences.
What topics do you expect to cover?
Passionate support for open access, open data, and open educational resources will set the climate for the conference, but will not be a focus of debate. Our content will explore the current state and new models of peer review, infrastructures and incentives for data sharing, global perspectives of knowledge production, the social and public communication of scholarship, and the key roles libraries and librarians have and will play in advancing scholarly communication. At Righting Peer Review, a panel of publishers, editors, and academics, including Retraction Watch co-founder Ivan Oransky and Jigisha Patel, Associate Editorial Director for Research Integrity at BioMed Central, will address the landscape of peer review fraud, its impact, and potential solutions. Erin McKiernan, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Wilfrid Laurier University, will moderate a discussion about technologies, practices, and policies for supporting open data. We will consider how new models and expectations of scholarly communication affect and address knowledge distribution structures in the developing world at Beyond Open: Global Perspectives on Research Communication & Knowledge Production. And, with her closing keynote talk, Public Communication of Research: Completing the Cycle of Knowledge, Mónica I. Feliú-Mójer will speak to the importance and impact of research communication beyond the academy.
Why should people attend?
People should attend to participate in transparent, collaborative, and thoughtful discussion. Attention will be focused on the implementation and sustainability of processes and innovations from within and outside the academy. There will be substantial input from students and early career researchers, to surface their needs and expectations, and to facilitate their leadership in efforts to build a more collaborative, open, and impactful scholarly communication system. Early career scholars are leading sessions at ARCS, such Paige Brown Jarreau who will be talking about her research project, All the Science That’s Fit to Blog, and moderating a round table discussion on social media and scholarly communication. We are partnering with organizations and universities to provide scholarships, and are working with the Right to Research Coalition to identify students and early career researchers to represent this perspective at the conference. At a post-conference workshop, scholarship attendees will identify and launch projects to advance scholarly communication and build sustained collaborations.
What do you hope to achieve?
First, we hope to inform and affect the success of the people and organizations working to make research and scholarship more impactful, both within and outside of the academy. By broadening the scope and the demographics of the conversation, we’re attempting to connect the dots–the people, organizations, activities, systems, and technologies–that take research and scholarship from the bench to the bedside, the field to the policy, and the archive to the classroom. Ultimately, we expect to inspire new conversations with familiar stakeholders, innovative partnerships, and change across the scholarly communication system.
What’s next for ARCS – do you see this as an annual event? Might it evolve into something more than just a conference?
Right now we are focused on building a successful first year – we continue to add great content to the program. A publishing hackathon will kick off the first night, which will engage and act upon ideas and technologies for developing article, monograph, and other forms of publishing. Our plan is to make ARCS a yearly conference. We have ideas for evolving it into something more and supporting the same kind of engagement between face-to-face events. Both will likely be realized through partnerships with the people and organizations represented at the conference.
How can people sign up?
We hope you’ll join us in Philadelphia, April 26 – 28, 2015 to share your work and ideas. Visit http://commons.pacificu.edu/arcs/ to learn more. We also blog about planned sessions and themes here. Visit http://commons.pacificu.edu/arcs/registration.html to book your place and ensure that you become part of this new conversation. If your organization might be in a position to help underrepresented and unfunded individuals attend ARCS, you can donate to the Scholarship Fund as part of the registration process. Thank you in advance, and see you in Philly!
With thanks to Charlie Rapple for her help with this interview